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Connectors and coordinators in natural resource governance: insights from Swiss water supply

Mario Angst, Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; Institute of Political Science, University of Bern
Alexander Widmer, Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
Manuel Fischer, Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; Institute of Political Science, University of Bern
Karin Ingold, Eawag: Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology; Institute of Political Science, University of Bern; Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-10030-230201

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Abstract

Fragmentation across scales in natural resource governance can impede coordinated action and decrease innovation capacity. Bridging actors who connect others within governance networks helps to overcome this challenge. We analyze two bridging positions for actors in governance networks. First, periphery connectors integrate otherwise unconnected actors and provide access to new knowledge. Second, central coordinators efficiently connect actors at the center of the network and thus facilitate coordinated action. We propose a way to identify periphery connectors and central coordinators within governance networks and formulate expectations about types of actors that are likely to occupy these positions. An analysis of three actor networks in the water supply sector in Switzerland suggests that periphery coordinator positions are more likely to be occupied by organizations at higher jurisdictional levels. Central coordinator positions are more likely to be occupied by governmental actors as compared to nongovernmental actors. Thus, in addressing challenges of fragmentation, higher level governmental actors continue to play an important role, even when they delegate responsibilities to lower level and private actors.

Key words

bridging; fragmentation; governance; governance networks; natural resource governance; social network analysis; Switzerland; water supply

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087